Severed head, hands of Virgin Mary statue marks latest Tahoe church crime | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Severed head, hands of Virgin Mary statue marks latest Tahoe church crime

Kevin MacMillan
kmacmillan@sierranevada.com

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Another vandalism crime has occurred at a North Lake Tahoe church, this time involving the desecration of a granite Virgin Mary statue.

According to the Placer County Sheriff's Office, an unknown suspect or suspects sometime overnight Sunday, Feb. 14, severed the head, hands and fingers of the large statue located out front of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church at 8263 Steelhead Ave. in Kings Beach.

"The fingers of the statue were recovered at the scene, but the head has not been recovered," PCSO Lt. Alfredo Guitron told the Sierra Sun on Friday, Feb. 19.

In a follow-up interview Friday afternoon, PCSO Sgt. Det. Dave Hunt said the suspect(s) also attempted to inscribe something onto a placard mounted on the church's wall, but the writing was not legible.

It's not clear what tools were used to remove the head and hands (which were together in a praying motion, typical of a Virgin Mary statue), Hunt said, only that "it would take a lot" to remove the head, which weighs about 40 or 50 pounds.

The department has some people of interest, Hunt said, and the investigation is ongoing in conjunction with the FBI and Washoe County Sheriff's Office, considering other church vandalism crimes over the past year may be related.

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"We're not ruling that out," Hunt said.

Anyone with information about may contact PCSO Det. John Riella at jriella@placer.ca.gov or at 530-581-6325.

The series of North Lake Tahoe church vandalism incidents began on Easter Sunday in April 2015 in Incline Village, when all five of the town's five churches were tagged with anti-Christianity messages.

Since, similar crimes occurred last summer in Incline, as well as Kings Beach and Tahoe City.

In August, damage to two Incline churches included smashed doors and windows, and what appeared to be repeated attempts to saw down a wooden cross outside at The Village Church, a Presbyterian church at 736 McCourry Blvd.

In September, vandalisms in Kings Beach and Tahoe City involved suspects reportedly spray painting "offensive statements" on churches, prompting authorities to characterize the offenses as hate crimes.

Anyone with information about the Incline crimes is asked to contact the WCSO Incline Village Substation at 775-832-4107; or Secret Witness at 775-322-4900.

Information regarding these cases may also be relayed to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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